After the horrible deaths in Orlando, I got a panicked call from my daughters who were concerned for my safety.

It is maddening that my loved ones have to be concerned about my safety purely because of who I am.

I am a very spoiled old woman. My mornings start with my husband Tom bringing me a fresh cup of coffee in bed and the days often end with us playing scrabble in the evenings. It’s a life filled with little moments of pure peace and joy and I have to remind myself that it wasn’t always this way.

A decade ago, my life looked fantastic on paper but, bubbling under the surface, was turmoil. I was married and working as a Project Manager for a construction company where I took on everything from managing complex contracts to dealing with office staff, field crews and owners.

The work itself was fun and interesting but I always needed to throw myself in physical activity, training endlessly for marathons and long distance cycling races, to deal with the high pressure of the job and the stress of my “hidden secret”.

There comes a time when you can’t run any longer. It was on a 17-mile bike ride from Port Angeles up to Hurricane Ridge where I finally faced my unseen truth. Even though I had been identified as a man, I knew I was a woman.
Transitioning to my real self wasn’t easy. However, my life opened up in amazing ways – including falling in love with an old friend and now a dear love, Tom. Unfortunately, even though we want to spend our days quietly spoiling each other, the world does not always accept us.

After the horrible deaths in Orlando, I got a panicked call from my daughters who were concerned for my safety. I’ve often been implored to use caution, to be safe when leaving the house. And my family’s fear has only grown as they have witnessed the increasingly hateful messages and legislation, proposed and passed, regarding transgender people – like me.

It is maddening that my loved ones have to be concerned about my safety purely because of who I am. Luckily, with age comes stubbornness. I’ve already spent 50 years of my life hidden and refuse to live the rest of it in fear. But I do worry about future generations.

Our youth should feel nothing but love and support as they discover who they are as people. That is why Tom and I are more determined to be open to the community and lead by example, showing who we are to the world. Scrabble lovers and all.

And if Tom and I are ever blessed with grandchildren, I will endeavor to spoil each of them with kisses, hugs, and silliness as I did with my own children. As I would for all the children out there looking to find their true selves.